31 January 2016

Hate your job? QUIT!

"This is your life. Do what you love, and do it often. If you don't like something, change it. If you don't like your job, QUIT."

I discovered this poster a few years ago on Brainpickings. I was just entering my quarter-life crisis, and I was struggling in every way imaginable - emotionally, physically, psychologically. I had a fantastic job, doing exactly what I thought I wanted to do. I was trained properly, the work was challenging and engaging. The people were good to me. On paper, I was climbing the proverbial career ladder, making all the right proverbial moves up the right proverbial steps. All this, and yet, I felt dead on the inside.

So I moved on. I moved on to a place that was the furthest from what I wanted, but I spent 10 months convincing myself that this was good for me, that I would come out ahead, that I would start to love it like I had once hated the taste of chipotle peppers and now love them, or how sauerkraut used to be my worst nightmare and now I snack on it. I stayed 10 months, until finally my therapist told me to leave because my mental wellbeing was more important than any form of resume-embellishing, promotional potential.

And I moved on again. This time, at this place, I hit my wall. It was in this job (being general because I don't want to offend anyone) that I not only learned the value in loving what you do, but also loving the people you do it with.

I needed an escape route. I scanned the job postings I was qualified for mindlessly and nothing - I repeat NOTHING was what I could picture myself doing long term. All I could picture was myself becoming a teacher and thriving in an environment of ideas and learning and knowledge. And I know that some people grow to love their jobs and that yes, this could have happened to me, but I wasn't interested in trying to love my job anymore.

So, I fucking quit. 

I am not naive. I understand how blessed I was to be able to just quit - I didn't have any huge overhead: no kids, no huge bills to pay. I didn't have any plans. I do have a supportive family that allows me to live rent free, cooks and cleans for me, and hugs me when I cry. I have the best boyfriend in the world who helped me to see that killing myself at a dead-end job was sucking the life out of me.

Before and after I quit, I spent hours reading and writing and imagining what my Best Life looked like. My Best Life was discovered after daydreaming about what kind of job I could see myself doing every day for the next 30+ years. Did I see myself sitting at a desk (regardless of how fancy the view and how comfy the chair) writing and editing? Every day? For 30+ years? Did I see myself engaging students in foundational skills and helping them to be the best they could be? Every day? For 30+ years? I wrote and I questioned and I discussed and I observed and I wrote-questioned-discussed-observed some more.

It wasn't black and white, hardly anything in life ever is. I had so many fears and questions and negative future fantasies about what was going to happen. But I put them aside for small moments at a time and began taking steps toward going back to school. I took the CBEST, I applied to school. I spent hours talking to my teacher friends about their jobs, pluses and minuses and curriculum and administrators and students and parents. And all this just further reaffirmed that I was doing the right thing, and that I was doing it at the right time.

Flash forward a year and a half. I'm almost done with my credential, subbing on my days off of school, I student teach next fall, then I have a whole new set of skills to enter an entirely different industry. I have to remind myself to be patient, but I am overall crawling-out-of-my-skin ecstatic at the prospect of having my own classroom.

I am not advocating that y'all go quit your jobs and come teach. Let me repeat: I am not advocating that if you hate your job that teaching is for you. Teaching was something I wanted to do, deep down, since about second grade. It is not an easy job. It is not going to be all sunshine and roses and student notes saying what a wonderful teacher I am. What I am advocating is this: if you find yourself like me, slowly dying at your work desk each day, don't waste time waiting for things to get better. They might, but they also might not. Spend every free moment you have imagining and writing what your dream job would be - in any industry. And take the baby steps you need to get there. Above all, know yourself well enough to know when enough is enough.

Be patient. Be honest with yourself. And if you hate your job, please, quit.


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